The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is the latest religious organization to suspend services because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Bishop Richard Deeley announced the change Wednesday, saying all daily and Sunday Masses and religious services in Maine will be suspended indefinitely.

There are more than 140 active Catholic churches in Maine. The decision comes within weeks of Easter, which is one of the most important holidays for Christians.

Other faith communities have changed or canceled services as well.

“These are unprecedented circumstances,” Deeley said in a news release. “I join with many bishops across the country in making this decision in response to the continuing threat of COVID-19. In this diocese, our parishes are places of welcome where all can encounter Jesus, but they must also be communities that look after the most vulnerable among us. Temporarily suspending Masses will help to ensure the safety of our older parishioners and our priests, particularly those who are also among the most vulnerable.”

The bishop will still celebrate Mass on a livestream from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Sundays at 10 a.m. The cathedral will not be open to the public, but the diocese shared information about how to watch that livestream and others on its website – portlanddiocese.org. People can also participate by watching on TV or listening on the radio, and donations can be made online.

“Please remember that your parish communities depend on the offertory collections and will need your support going forward to carry on the mission of the Church,” Deeley said.

The bishop granted a dispensation for Maine Catholics during this time, which means they are not under the usual obligation to attend Sunday Mass.

He said baptisms, funerals and weddings in the church could continue, but only immediate family could be present for the Mass.

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